Video CMS: What It Is and Why You Need One


There’s more video content floating around than ever before, making up 80% of all internet traffic today. But without a simple way to organize, store, and access this content, it serves as little more than digital clutter. Video content management systems (CMS) help cut through the noise by acting as a central repository for media assets and streamlining online video distribution.

Check out the video above and read on for the what, why, and how of video CMS platforms.


Table of Contents


What Is a Video CMS

A video content management system, or video CMS, is an application used to manage video assets. Like any good content management tool, a video CMS acts as a database that simplifies the storage, findability, and dissemination of digital assets.

Organization is the key capability of a video streaming CMS, and searchability is the direct benefit. These digital libraries serve as a central location for hosting, categorizing, and accessing the entirety of a publishers’ video archive. Both content distributors and end users gain the ability to quickly find the videos they’re looking for based on attributes like title, keywords, or content category.

With a video CMS, such metadata can be both automatically extracted and manually entered. More advanced video CMS platforms also leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze the content quickly and index it accordingly.

Finally, analytics related to video performance and viewer data may also be included in a video CMS interface, helping inform future decisions and provide visibility across the entire workflow.

All of this makes it easier for broadcasters to manage content internally and share it externally.


Why Use a Video CMS

Imagine buying a new house and discovering that the attic is packed to the brim with unmarked DVDs. Even worse, what if the DVDs were spread across the entire house rather than in a central location?

It’s possible that the vast collection of DVDs has monetary value (after all, Dragon Ball Z box sets sell for $800 on eBay). But without a way to quickly catalog and sort through the DVDs, you’d probably be more inclined to get rid of the entire stockpile. After all, what’s the value of video content that can’t be easily organized, stored, and shared?

A video CMS solves for these needs by automating several content management processes and hosting online videos in one place. Businesses rely on video CMS tools to easily stream and manage their video files without any IT headaches.


For publishers, this translates to streamlined input of data. The CMS quickly ingests, tags, and stores content — automating any tasks along the way. By generating and storing metadata about uploaded videos, for example, the CMS shares some of the burden that would otherwise fall on the broadcaster.

For end users, this translates to improved discoverability of content. The CMS allows viewers to search content in the system and play it anywhere — leaving more time to actually watch the videos they’re looking for.

And for both parties, the CMS can be used to make future content recommendations based on a user’s watch history. This results in more views (a.k.a. money) for content owners and improved personalization for viewers. In other words, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.


Benefits of a Video CMS

To summarize, the value of a CMS is tied to the media’s metadata and the resulting ease of discoverability. More specifically, a CMS translates to:

  • Centralization: When content is stored in a single system, it’s easier to track, manage, and locate.
  • Reuse and Amplification: A video hosting CMS allows broadcasters to reuse content that might have otherwise been lost in storage.
  • User-Friendly Access: Video CMS platforms provide end users with an easy way to search and uncover content.

How a Video CMS Works


1. Ingesting and Tagging

The core of a video CMS is an application programming interface (API) for managing video assets. It helps ingest, store, and tag video content with metadata to differentiate each file. Broadcasters can upload one or more files into the system or even create a recording from a live stream using live-to-VOD functionality.

A video CMS gathers the metadata associated with each file in one of three ways:

  1. Extracted data: Information about physical aspects of the video such as duration, resolution, or codecs used can be automatically extracted from the file itself.
  2. User-entered data: Video tags based on an organization’s internal structure, such as subject or participants, can be manually entered by individuals as they upload each file.
  3. Machine-generated data: Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) may also be used to gather additional information. This is done leveraging the audio data captured using captioning technology or even via object detection and other computer vision techniques.

Using the management interface, publishers can also control the categories and hierarchies they define, set the status and associate users with each file, and even make updates to single and bulk video assets. For example, an admin may want to mark a video as published/unpublished or create playlists for end users.


2. Processing

From there, a video CMS processes each file to prepare it for video streaming. This involves transcoding and packaging the video for delivery to any endpoint. That way, each time someone chooses to view a file, the video CMS will provide the content in a format most suitable for their device and connection.


Finally, an API is leveraged to enable the discoverability of video assets. This provides users with easy access to the content. Users can enter text-based keywords related to the video subject, or further drill down and refine their search based on categories and tags. Once a user selects a video, they’re able to view it anywhere — thanks to technologies like adaptive bitrate streaming.


What to Look for in a Video CMS


Key features to look for in a video CMS include:

  • Transcoding and Packaging: If every viewer had a 4K home theater plugged into high-speed internet, delivering video content would be easy. But that’s not the case. Today’s viewers are out and about, accessing streams from various devices. Different screens and varying internet speeds make video transcoding and processing essential. In addition to enabling adaptive bitrate streaming, this functionality allows you to repackage content into various formats for reliable playback on any device. Choosing a streaming platform like Wowza that offers protocol flexibility will ensure that your videos play back across many endpoints.
  • Live-to-VOD: If you often broadcast live content but would like the ability to instantly create video on demand (VOD) assets from your live streams, you’ll want to find a video platform that supports live-to-VOD streaming. This lets you quickly add live assets to your library and creates additional monetization opportunities through content repurposing.
  • Flexible Metadata Model: Don’t let your video CMS provider impose limits on how your video data is structured. The ability to add new fields and categories provides flexibility defining an internal organization structure that makes the most sense for your business.
  • Automated Metadata Generation: Automatic metadata generation for physical attributes like codec, resolution, and duration speeds up content tagging. The more information, the better — which is why you’ll want to look for a video CMS that automates some of these processes.
  • Simple, Flexible Searching: Benjamin Franklin said that for every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned. However, this only holds true for video CMS tools if everyone using the technology can quickly locate what they’re trying to find. Simple, flexible searching ensures just that.
  • API Access: API access to a video CDN ensures that you can easily integrate the tool with other systems and control your video hosting experience. Although most video CMS platforms come with an intuitive user interface (UI), API access means that you aren’t tied to a specific UI.

Advanced video CMS features for more complex requirements include:

  • Workflow Modeling: A workflow model allows you to define content roles and states for routing the video appropriately. This streamlines management across an organization by describing functions like author, editor, and publisher; as well as lifecycle states such as unpublished and published.
  • Batch Transfer: Anyone looking to migrate assets from another platform will benefit from a video CMS with batch transfer capabilities for moving hundreds of thousands of files at a time.
  • Playlist Generation and Playout: Playlists provide the ability to program groups of assets for playback as linear channels over a defined time period. This capability supports the creation of anything from digital signage to corporate news feeds to 24/7 playlists for OTT platforms with curated linear channels. Advanced playlist capabilities also include support for advertising (pre, post, and mid roll), as well as intermixing live content.
  • Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning: AI/ML tools for auto transcription, topic detection, object recognition, and caption generation promise to replace manual tasks for cataloging content. As a result, AI/ML can improve searchability, delivering a better user experience for everyone leveraging the platform. For instance, all videos containing mention of medical-related keywords might be automatically grouped into an organization’s ‘healthcare’ category. Alternatively, videos showing illicit content such as nudity might be automatically flagged for further review.
  • Integrated Analytics: Data analytics can help improve quality of experience (QoE), content classification, ad targeting, and more. Finding a video CMS with this capability built in means that you can make data-driven decisions with visibility across the entire workflow.
  • Clip Extraction and Editing: Tools forextracting clips and highlights, as well as making simple edits to the videos in your library, offer one more method for repurposing content and extending the value of your assets. That way, you’re able to publish short-form videos to social media sites like Instagram, produce highlight reels from live events, trim a recorded event, or rework your content in other ways — all while keeping every versions of the core asset available.

Standalone Services vs. Integrated Solutions

Video CMS software can be purchased as a standalone product or an integrated component of your enterprise video platform. Finding an integrated solution is often preferred because it simplifies a publisher’s infrastructure and makes it easier to create linear channels that mix live and VOD content.

What’s more, finding a single-provider solution for all your video technology needs is key to improving observability across the entire video delivery workflow. Complicated, multi-vendor workflows have long plagued online video. An integrated video CMS solution alleviates this complexity — ultimately delivering a more seamless experience to end users.


Wowza’s Integrated Video Platform With CMS and More

Our customers have been asking for video CMS capabilities for some time, which is why we’ve built the integrated Wowza Video platform with video CMS, analytics, and more. Check out the video below for a sneak peek, or contact us today.


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About Barry Owen

Barry Owen is Wowza’s resident video streaming expert and vice president of solutions engineering. In this role, he leads a team dedicated to helping customers succeed. From architecting custom applications to solving complex problems, Barry leverages more than 25 years of experience developing software-as-a-service, cloud-based, and live streaming platforms to create innovative solutions that empower organizations across every use case.